“This is what you dream of as a kid,” is how an emotional Johnny Sexton summed up winning the Grand Slam after his final ever game in the Six Nations Championship.
He was speaking in the immediate aftermath of Ireland’s 29-16 victory over England at the Aviva Stadium, a fixture which saw the fly-half score three conversions and a penalty to overtake Ronan O’Gara as the top scorer in the competition’s history.
Sexton’s place kicking combined with two tries from Dan Sheehan and one each for Robbie Henshaw and Rob Herring was more than enough to overturn an early 6-0 deficit.
“You couldn’t make it up, honestly you couldn’t make it up. It’s like living in a dream. I’m actually worried if I’m going to wake up in the morning,” Sexton said.
“Look we didn’t play our best but bloody hell, what a team. What a group of coaches. They prepared us so well.
“We did nothing that they told us. We did the exact opposite. We made things hard for ourselves but England are a top class team. To come here and get a win on Patrick’s Weekend, it’s unbelievable. What a day.”
This follows Ireland’s Triple Crown success in 2022 and their series victory over the All Blacks last summer in New Zealand. Everything had been building towards a showdown with England, and Sexton is thrilled to get this over the line.
“We set out to win a Grand Slam at the start of the year. We had the Triple Crown last year and we wanted to build on that and it came down to that. We talked about this day eight weeks ago. We finally got to the big final. We didn’t quite nail it and I’m so proud of the lads and thank you to everyone here today. Unbelievable atmosphere,” he said.
“It’s the best tournament that you can play in. It’s the best country you can play for. It’s an incredible group of people. We’re so proud to be Irish. Every time we come out here we want to show that to everyone here. I think we do that; win, lose, or draw. That’s the main thing.
“It doesn’t really feel like the end so there’s plenty of more left in this team and we need to keep building. We certainly need to improve on today and we’ll be back and we’re going to need all of this support come four or five months’ time.”
“Like I said during the week, this is what you dream of as a kid. To have my family here watching today, like I said, it is a dream come true.”
As for Player of the Match Dan Sheehan, his voice could barely come through the roar from the stands at full-time.
“This is a hugely special day, to win a Grand Slam in front of your home fans. All day they were with us. I don’t know what they say really. They were just special,” he said.
“You want to be an Irish player but you also want to be a successful Irish rugby player. A Grand Slam is really special for this whole country. I’m really proud of all the boys.